Anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard held a press conference to take stock of the assassination of Samuel Paty in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, October 16, 2020. – ABDULMONAM EASSA / AFP

  • A history and geography professor was beheaded on Friday in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Yvelines), around 5 p.m., near the college where he taught.
  • The National Antiterrorist Prosecutor’s Office immediately seized upon the investigation, opened for “assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “criminal terrorist association”.
  • The anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard took stock of the investigation early Saturday afternoon.

Early Saturday afternoon, when a rally began in front of the Bois d’Aulne college at the call of the mayor of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, the anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard held a conference of press to take stock of the assassination of Samuel Paty, this history and geography professor beheaded on Friday.

“I made a point of expressing myself as soon as possible, given the gravity of the facts and their immense repercussions,” he said. This is what should be remembered from his intervention.

What happened ?

Friday, at 5:11 p.m., the national police are called upon by the municipal police of Eragny-sur-Oise (town adjacent to Conflans-Sainte-Honorine) after the discovery of a body on the public highway. A man with a handgun is immediately named as the alleged perpetrator. The national police officers go there and fall on him. “At their sight, the individual ran in their direction and shot five times with his handgun,” said the prosecutor. Three policemen retaliate and hit him. On the ground, the assailant tries to get up and give stab wounds. He is neutralized. “His body has nine bullet holes,” he detailed.

Who was the aggressor?

As the first elements of the investigation indicated, the alleged assailant is an individual “born in 2002 in Moscow, of Russian nationality and of Chechen origin”. Abdoullakh Abouyezidvitch had a residence permit, valid for ten years, which had been issued to him at the beginning of last March. He lived in Evreux and was “unknown to the intelligence services”. He had never been convicted, although he had been found guilty of “willful violence and degradation when he was a minor,” said the prosecutor.

The authenticated Twitter account

Since Friday evening, investigators were interested in a Twitter account, quickly closed, which claimed responsibility for the attack. A message had been posted there, showing a photo of the head of the victim under which Emmanuel Macron was described as “leader of the infidels”. The author of the message claimed to want to avenge the one “who dared to belittle Muhammad”. “This account belonged to the perpetrator,” said Jean-François Ricard. The text of the claim and a photograph of the dead victim were also found in the assailant’s phone.

What happened in the last ten days

A chain of events, since Samuel Paty’s course on October 5 showing two caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad as part of a course on freedom of expression, led to this assassination. From the evening of this course, a parent of a pupil, alerted by his daughter, publishes a video to relate the facts and calls for a demonstration to demand the exclusion of the teacher. Three days later, the father and a second individual go to the college to meet the Principal of the college. “She tried to calm things down, while the two people asked for the dismissal of the professor on pain of mobilization,” said Jean-François Ricard. On the evening of this same October 8, the father published a new video in which he named the professor, gave the address of the college and encouraged those who wanted to demonstrate “to say stop”.

On October 11, the father went to the police station with his daughter to file a complaint for the dissemination of pornographic images. The professor is heard on the 12th, he relates the content of his presentation, of which he gives a copy. “He did not tell Muslim students to leave the classroom, but was careful to suggest that students who might be upset not look,” said the prosecutor. Samuel Paty in turn filed a defamation complaint.

The prosecutor referred to a last video, published on October 13 on Youtube, in which we find the father and his daughter. A third person accuses Emmanuel Macron of stirring up hatred against Muslims and calls for a demonstration in front of the college. This is the man who had accompanied the father to see the Principal. The latter reports numerous threatening calls received at the college following the broadcast of this video.

Finally, Friday, the assailant was in front of the college gate, and asked students to appoint him the teacher.

The father’s half-sister joined Daesh in 2014

Nine people were taken into police custody. Four are from the direct family entourage of the assailant, two other people presented themselves late Friday evening and indicated to have been in contact with the author shortly before the facts. There is also the man appearing on the October 12 video, who had accompanied the father to college, and his partner.

The father of the complainant student was also arrested this Saturday morning in Chanteloup-les-Vignes. “It should be noted that this man’s half-sister joined the Islamic State organization in October 2014 in Syria. She is the subject of a search warrant by an anti-terrorism investigating judge, ”said the prosecutor.

And now ?

The investigation carried out under the authority of the anti-terrorism prosecution is continuing. “It is now necessary to specify the schedule of the author of the facts in the days preceding” the attack and “to establish what the people in custody did”, explained Jean-François Ricard. The latter did not allow the journalists present to ask questions, “given the recent nature of the facts and so as not to interfere with the progress of the investigations”.

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